With property owner investment in Orinda’s disfuctional downtown quite a way off, we have shifted our focus to some potentially low-hanging fruit. We call these our what ifs:
What if local businesses were alerted when special events are taking place so they could take advantage of potential extra business? For example, back to back weekend dance recitals just came through the Orinda Library Auditorium. Cafe Teatro had its usual business hours when they could have stayed open later and/or added staff during performance times. For further example, two Orinda teens organized their 4th Annual Breast Cancer Walk for Awareness departing from the de Laveaga Train Depot on Mother’s Day. What if businesses in Theater Square and/or the Crossroads got involved?
What if we hosted a Three Bears bike race that started and ended downtown, named after the popular 19-mile loop that draws hundreds of cyclists through Orinda regularly? Baby bear loop for little ones? Goldilocks beer tent for grown-ups?
Speaking of beer, what if we grabbed Orinda Historical Society's list of Orinda's landmarks (the Casa, the Theater, the old bridge, etc.) to create a "pub crawl"-type community event? Titled "Site to Site, Drink a Pint".......who's in?
What if McCaulou's Village Square wasn't a ghost town on Sundays? Kudos to Orinda Books and Village Cafe for bravely staying open and breathing some life into that corner of our town. Bonus what if: what if (gasp!) McCaulou's moved their furniture out of the vacant space at the end and tried to find a tenant?
What if Orinda hosted a weekly or monthly food truck event on the Library Plaza? Off The Grid reached out to Drummond Buckley, our intrepid Planning Director, about this months ago. He followed up with enthusiasm but then it fizzled on the OTG end. Currently we have reached out to Taste of the World Market and a meeting is set including our new Parks & Rec guru, Todd Trimble. Fingers crossed!
What if Orinda restaurants connected to CalShakes to promote themselves?
What if someone bought a plot of land in Orinda and built us our own Westbrae Biergarten? Something open, visible and community-building...and called it de Laveaga Biergarten. Or something. Just spit-ballin' here...
What if we put the space in front of the Library parking structure to good use and built a dog park over half or some portion of it?
What if the idea for a temporary outdoor "living room" on a quiet stretch (i.e. Avenida de Orinda or the aforementioned area adjacent to the Library parking structure), complete with astroturf, ping pong tables and more, became a reality?
What if there was a better way to enhance and promote the existing events Orinda has that bring people downtown? The 4th of July Parade is perhaps our greatest success. But we also have the Farmers Market, Orinda Action Day, Concerts in the Park, Movies in the Park, Classic Car show, Lamorinda Idol, Restaurant Tour, Lamorinda Arts Council events, Library events, and yet residents are finding reasons not to bother.
What if we create vibrancy, and that vibrancy begets investment downtown??
*Idea credits to Steve Salomon (interim City Manager), Drummond Buckley, Main Street America, MHS students, us WUDO folks, and Cindy Powell.
**Please email us if you’d like to pitch in in some way. Doing any of these will require a committee of sorts, and volunteers like you! Short of offers of help, we welcome other creative ideas to create more vibrancy downtown via email at firstname.lastname@example.org